Social Distancing Influences New Consumer Behavior

TV consumption is at a significant high, while day-time programs become the most affordable prime-time. bTV Media Group introduces new package offers with attractive ad formats, synched with the current themes and consumer behavior that brands are focused on

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) put the world at a standstill. It changed the way we communicate with our family and friends, at work and with the authorities. How long will we be on lockdown? Will physical contact become a taboo? Will our perception of physical contact ever go back to what it used to be? What will happen to the service sector? How do we filter in fake news from credible information? What’s the new normal? How do we protect ourselves and others? These are some of the more pressing questions that each one of us is asking.

With all this in mind, we observe a shift towards a more pragmatic consumer approach. Family becomes the focus. Social distancing inspires us to look for ways to compensate the lack of physical contact – mostly by catching up on our digital experience. The media are the means to enrich our daily routines while staying at home, as well as our main source of access to new emotions and knowledge.

With breaking news becoming some of the most watched segments on screen, and in response to the need of the audiences to be informed all day long, bTV Media Group introduced programming changes. The adjustments have been made in full compliance with the company’s priority to safeguard the health and safety of its employees, as more resources are oriented towards the production of news and current affairs editions, now with added live on-screen sign language on air.

What remains top priority for marketers today is maintaining the connection with consumers given the absence of a physical presence. How to identify new occasions and behaviors to drive relevance and trial. How to promote the business without being perceived as taking advantage of the situation.

According to a new independent research by Market Links, the recent GARB ratings, as well as the online data clearly show that the preferences of the Bulgarian audience are similar to those of viewers worldwide, with bTV reinforcing its position as the leading national information source. More about the study can be found here.

With such a challenge ahead, the global ad sector has united around recommendations such as budget allocation that favors higher TV investment and digital presence (Dentsu Aegis Network observes 90% increase in traffic). This leads to attractive TV offers in appealing combinations with digital forms. According to the media agency, radio and press are expected to follow suit.

Meanwhile, OMD Asia focuses on the “rise of the socially conscious consumer”. A consumer who carefully chooses the brand in accordance with its corporate social responsibility, production technology and how it ensures the safety of its employees in times of crises.

As stated, the current focus in modern society is towards family – how we take care of our closest ones and of our homes, which is where most of us are at in this moment. Brands who offer solutions for more meaningful and more varied in-house experience during this time are quickly turning into a natural participant in the household routine. In addition to effective disinfection and personal care methods to combat the spread of the virus, many brands also offer advice on how to keep our mental health and energy. Self-help and personal development courses – from educational to skill-oriented (cooking, plant care, closet organization, kitchenware use, etc). are also becoming quite popular.

The Sales team at bTV Media Group has created new package offers with alternative ad forms that relate to both consumer behavior and the values that brands support and carry within their core. The new proposals include all platforms – TV, radio and web. You can consult your sales partner in the BMG Sales team on more information about the most suitable option.

Each option is in compliance with the unconventional challenges at the moment and offers solutions for quick and smart brand adjustment.

Here is how Ogilvy Asia sums up consumer behavior during COVID-19:

  • Emergency consumption and feel-good consumption
  • Home purchases
  • E-commerce containing.

Experts estimate the longer the lockdown goes on, the more the consumers will get used to living differently. The current global situation leads towards revisiting values, brand selection, as well as change in the shopping methods. It is of no less possibility that this new model becomes the “new normal.”

If a brand’s business is not predominantly offline, sustaining the short-term campaigns becomes indispensable, and budgets need to be in sync with the consumption. Analysts advise to emphasize on real-time contextual communication that relates to a wider audience, as well as to ensure opportunities to attract a new client base and enrich the product portfolio.

Another effective method would be to allocate budgets from tactical campaigns towards a user-friendly online shopping environment, in order to improve the consumers’ web experience. The optimization of expenses should support the brand’s web space, as well as the transparency of purchasing transactions. In such context, brands with weak online presence might incur significant losses.

What comes naturally in such circumstances is a revision of the communication mix in order to engage a bigger audience. Experts advise that more focus should be on the growing channels – with BTL and OOH activities brought at a halt, the natural orientation is towards the many forms of TV and digital, where brands can play with video and voice messages to keep in contact with the consumer.

The methods of rethinking the communication and marketing strategies could also include price reduction, extending a product’s testing period, free delivery, flight ticket changes, club membership freeze – all of these would help differentiate from the competition. A brand that listens to and is compassionate to its client base will yield much more success in the long run than its inflexible competitors.

Staying at home while social distancing also inspires experiments within households. The figures show that a staggering 84% of Asian consumers have tried at least one new service while at home. The highest percentage goes to online medical consults (34%), followed by educational courses (33%), home office applications (29%) as well as paid apps for digital entertainment (26%). Global analysts contend that online medical care is about to reach an all-time high and is set to peak, as humanity will rethink its healthcare approach in global aspect.

Engaging the stakeholders and audiences through a community management on social media is another smart move for companies – the creation of special channels and answers in real-time is essential to maintaining trust. Ogilvy Asia advises to activate your goal by doing more and talking less. Activate brand purpose and add “bran-alignment” – value to community and broder nation.

Companies that respond with adequate CSR campaigns for the good of society are also witnessing an authentic consumer support from their customer base. Exemplary are the number of popular brands on the Bulgarian market that already made much needed donations to local hospitals.

How and when we will get out of the crisis is not yet clear. What is certain is that it will pass, and the consumer needs will have changed, which opens up new opportunities.

Here is the Top 10 Checklist of Ogilvy Asia containing all the steps that you can apply now for a brighter brand future:


  1. Don’t wait for recovery; adapt to changes and focus investments on what is profitable now.

2. Review product/SKU portfolio due to changed consumer behavior

3. Disruption provides opportunity: revisit brand value and deifferentiation

4. Think outside your physical brand experience. eCommerce acceleration plan: product mix, new channels, data systems

5. Identify new growth opportunities, new occasions, new services

6. Maximise the value and power of existing customers.

7. Use the slowdown to innovate

8. Have a long-term brand/portfolio plan centered on changed consumer behavior

9. Redesign/optimise your go market plan: consider product mix, geography, sales channels and customer segment focus

10. Be ready for the After. Agility is a must.


Making_brand_matter_in_turbulent_times_Beyond_COVID_19, 26th February 2020, Oglivy Asia